Whitbread sells fruit machine arm

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The Independent Online
WHITBREAD, the smallest of the Big Four brewers, has sold its amusement machine manufacturing subsidiary, JPM Holdings, to management, writes Elizabeth Heathcote. Industry sources value the deal at pounds 3.5m.

Whitbread bought the company four years ago at the peak of the market. The price paid was never revealed but the brewer has already written down JPM's value.

The amusement machine sector has been particularly affected by the recession. In 1990/91, JPM turned over pounds 15m, but profit was around the break-even point.

The Government's three-yearly review of stakes and prizes in fruit machines, which traditionally provides a boost for the industry because of the opportunity to pay more in prize money, is due this autumn. 'Certain changes will be necessary in order to take the business forward,' said Philip Walters, managing director of JPM. The company was put up for sale in February.

'JPM was not a core business,' Whitbread said. 'We decided to dispose of this in line with our strategy of concentrating on markets in which we are or can become leaders.'

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